Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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Obasan is a novel that reveals what the Japanese have experienced during World War II. The author, Joy Kogawa, uses different scenes in every chapter to express the suffering discrimination of the Japanese at the hands of the government and many people in Canada in World War II because it was Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor at that time. This book is narrated by Naomi Nakane, a second-generation Japanese schoolteacher who in 1972 is looking back toward her wartime childhood. She has never married, never moved far from the place of exile to which the Canadian Government sent her family at the war's end. Throughout the whole story, Obasan grows up and unfortunately becomes deaf at the end. Naomi as a result comes to help Obasan because she has separated from her mother. Consequently, Naomi is very beloved by Obasan. Kogawa, using Naomi, tends to go back and forth from the past and the present and thus presents many flashbacks.

The effect of this is that instead of telling the story from the beginning to the end, it could just explain to the reader quickly why something is happening the way it is in the present. Moreover, using flashbacks can add creativity to the story, thus, bringing in cases from the past can also lighten up the mood. In the novel, Naomi recollects the happiest moment when she and her grandma were having a bath and scrubbing each other¡¦s backs. On the other hand, she also recalls the terrifying moment when her uncle received a call saying that the armies were approaching. In general, Naomi, as an adult, is trying to come to terms with the past. However, she faces many obstacles through her aunt and uncle¡¦s silence. Most of her memories are sorrowful and painful and she...